We're well into the 21st century and manufacturing companies are constantly looking for ways to automate processes, improve ergonomics and increase overall employee satisfaction. There are many cost effective ways to achieve these goals and installing crane systems can be one of the best ways to achieve a positive return on investment. However, before buying a jib crane, there are somethings you'd need to think about.

Here are the considerations:

1. Capacity Requirements

When looking at purchasing a jib crane, it's important to consider the capacity of the materials you're going to be lifting with the jib crane. The higher the capacity, the larger the footing or base plate needs to be. Imagine a diving board. If you have 300 lbs at the end of the diving board, but the base of the diving board can only support 100 lbs, the diving board will topple over. If your base can support 500 lbs, then the diving board will stay in place.

There are two different solutions for handling capacities – there's adding a footing which requires cutting into concrete. Adding a footing is typically for higher capacities. For lower capacities, companies have the option to add a base plate. Base plates are typically 6 foot square pieces of steel that evenly distribute the weight of the jib crane, creating a counterweight and holding the crane system in place. Jib crane capacities can range from 100 pounds up to 30,000 pounds depending on the span and jib series. A crane specialist should be able to help determine whether or not a crane requires footing over base plates and vice versa depending on the application of the jib crane.

2. Overall Height

It's important to consider how the jib crane will be used and what types of material is being lifted. You will need to make sure the jib crane system can accommodate the height of the application. When considering overall height, you will also need to factor in your hoist size and any below hook lifting devices being used.

3. Overall Reach

Similar to the overall height, you must also consider how the crane will be used and the types of materials being lifted for determining the overall reach. Be sure to look for obstructions such as conduits, building columns, etc when reviewing the placement of the jib crane. If limited amount of space is available for reach, portable jib cranes could be used to acquire the desired amount of reach, with up to a certain capacity. 

4. Rotation Requirements

How much rotation will the jib crane need to get the job done? 180 degrees? 360 degrees? The degree of rotation will heavily depend on the obstructions in the workspace such as conduits, workstations, building columns, pallet racking, etc. that would limit rotation. In many applications, the jib crane would need minimal rotation – such as lifting materials from one workbench to another.

5. Environmental Considerations

The environment of the jib crane is very important when considering which type of system to get. Different environmental considerations include interior vs. exterior, corrosive vs. non-corrosive. Certain times of jib crane systems work better in some environments more so than others. For example, Foundationless Jib Cranes are specifically used for indoor applications, whereas Freestanding Jib Cranes can be weatherized for outdoor use. If the environment is corrosive, you may want to consider galvanizing the crane system to protect it from erosion. There are lots of different possibilities for adapting crane systems to fit a particular environment.

Many thanks to Amanda Clark from Barron Equipment for providing the information for this article.

Barron Equipment - www.barroneq.com

Full-Service Plastic Injection Molding

What is a Full-Service Injection Molder?

It was once commonplace that you could pull into a full-service gas station and a filling station attendant—also known as a “gas jockey”—would not only pump your gas for you, but they would also clean your windshield, fill your tires, check your oil and take your payment, all while you sat comfortably and waited. These full-service stations are nearly extinct now, as the small family-owned gas stations have given way to mammoth one-stop shops where you can buy groceries, coolers and grills, food and drink, ice and so many other conveniences.


We hear the term a lot, but what does full-service mean within the injection molding industry? Many molders that call themselves full-service are ones that started as tool shops first. They purchased an injection molding machine (IMM) to sample their new molds, and when that investment sat idle for too long or when the opportunity presented itself, they started molding production from their machine as well. The molding side of their businesses grew, and eventually they could design, build, condition, and maintain their molds while running and inspecting the production parts they molded from them. This, to many, is full-service injection molding.


A true full-service injection molder may have followed a similar path, starting as an injection mold maker but will evolve to offer more specialized capabilities and services over time.

The Voice of An Expert

To better understand the differences in injection molding companies we spoke with Tom Moyak, the Director of Business and Engineering Development for Matrix Tool to explain the concept of full-service injection molding.

We, at Matrix, refer to ourselves as a full-service injection molder. Our people set us apart, in particular with their drive and expertise. We make some of the most difficult molds and plastic molded products in the industry including a wide range of incredibly precise electrical connectors that comprise a significant portion of our molded products. We have a strong foundation in the fundamentals—in our processes, our equipment, and especially our personnel. Over 10% of our workforce are engineers, and 100% of our workforce are highly skilled and trained in their professions. 

Our group focus is to provide rapid service to our customers, not to only give them what they want but to identify what they don’t know they’re missing. We apply our expertise to simplify everything—simpler, better, and faster running molds that waste less material, for example, still make parts like other molds, but they do so while saving significant capital and providing improved quality and capacity.

By adding engineering support to the front end of the process—we help improve the product design where applicable to help every downstream process thereafter. Additional support includes Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Moldflow analysis software capabilities.

We continue to expand our capabilities including micro molding with the micro tooling and micro molding machine capabilities to properly support this highly specialized offering. We believe that sharing our expertise as a technology leader and partner, often leads to being an extension to their businesses.

We believe Full-Service Injection Molding means building a relationship with the customers by filling in the gaps where needed most and doing so without being asked. It means being successful and growing together. The injection molding business can be manic. We want to make our customers’ lives easier. That means providing the best quality products and services in a timely manner, and to have an operation that does that properly means everyone is winning in the end.

Many Thanks to Tom Moyak, Director of Business and Engineering Development for Matrix Tool, Inc.
website: https://matrixtoolinc.com


Managing Tire Storage and Warehousing

Challenges of Tire Storage

Running a successful warehousing operation as a part of your business entails more than simply loading and unloading products until they're needed. Ask any manufacturer, distributor, or retailer and they'll tell you that warehousing is a critical part of the overall business. Many warehousing operations face challenges like maintaining accurate inventory, the need for good space utilization and layouts that are flexible and can be changed quickly and easily for changes in products is important. Products must also be protected to reduce the cost of damage and that they will perform correctly when purchased.

Why Storing Tires is Different

The storage and warehousing of tires creates an additional set of challenges that need to be addressed. On one hand the product must be stored for easily accessibility and for accurate inventory. A unique challenge with tires is that the product must be stored properly to protect the integrity and safety of the tire during storage.

Tires are very susceptible to environmental conditions including moisture, sunlight, chemicals, and distortion from the way they are stored. Improper storage may distort or affect the dimensionality of the tire which may result in bad performance or compromise the safety of the tire. Tires need to be stored in a well-ventilated area that does not trap moisture or allow exposure to chemicals. Tire should also be stored above the floor surface and in a manner that will not cause distortion of the material.

Using Tire Racking Systems as a Part of Your Layout

 Tire warehousing requires an efficient racking system that raises the tires off the ground, positions the tires correctly and allows for air flow. For this reason, steel tire storage racks are recommended because they provide the strength and the design that meets the needs of the tire protection and help with the efficiency of the warehousing operations.

Tire Stack Racks allow you to use the vertical space to reduce the amount of floor space in your warehouse. it is important that the rack is strong enough and designed to support itself and the weight of the products so that they can be stacked upon each other to save space. the decking material should allow air flow and any water or moisture to easily exit the unit. This design also allows for easy visual inspection and more accurate inventory and picking of the product by warehouse personnel. 


The key to efficient tire storage is in the planning of how your warehouse is laid out and utilizing racking systems that enable you to quickly change the layout for your products as needed. As a warehouse manager or owner, it's worth the investment in time to do your research and select the right racking systems that will work with your warehouse and products most efficiently. 

Many Thanks to John Nelson of Nelson Sales & Marketing Company : www.nsmc-steel-racks.com

5 Tips for Buying Electronic Assemblies

5 Tips for Buying Your Next Electronic Assembly

Finding a new supplier to purchase your custom electronic assemblies from can be a daunting task for anyone new to the process.  Even if you have experience you may find subtle differences between suppliers that leave you wondering if you’ve made the right choice or not.  There are a lot of steps to the electronic contract assembly process and it is likely that both your engineering and quality departments should be part of your final electronic assembly contractor selection.  Whether it’s your first time finding a supplier or you just need some reminders this article should point out some key items to keep in mind.



Location and communication may both be key factors in your choice of a PCBA Manufacturer (Printed Circuit Board Assembly).  In today’s digital age emails, conference calls, and video conferences may very well be all the communication you need to manage your project from a distance.  If you are kicking off a new project though it may very well behoove you to have a supplier that is close enough to easily visit in person.  Some things are still easier to demonstrate and problem solve when a team is together in person. 


An item that can ease the need for close proximity is a singular point of contact within your supplier.  Is it clear who is managing your project?  Are you going to feel like you are bounced between a planning engineer, process engineer, testing engineer, component engineer, quote analyst, sales person, etc?   Finding a central point of contact that can bridge all these departments for you and is knowledgeable across the whole spectrum can help make your life much easier.  So treat your evaluation like an interview and ask to talk to who you will be working with on your project.  You should feel as comfortable with them as a trusted team mate you would hire to work side by side with.

File Management

 Often you can get a quote for a PCBA with just a set of gerber files and a Bill of Material.  But if you are getting competitive quotes make sure that everyone made the same assumptions if this is all you gave them.  Additional items like fabrication drawings (specifying alloys and PCB thicknesses), permissible BOM substitutions (letting them know what they can substitute can improve your lead times and final pricing), assembly drawings (finer details of the assembly process should be pointed out upfront so you and your vendor don’t argue about additional charges, time, or quality issues later), testing documents (often forgotten at time of quote but something that should be discussed upfront and tentatively budgeted for initially), quality standards you expect (this can drive cost differences depending on the depth of your needs), custom component information and pricing (to properly quote any custom components or upper level fabrications make sure you supply the files and let your supplier know if you already have target pricing or a supplier already tooled for your custom component if you’re planning on a full electro-mechanical assembly ).  Revisions are important, even if your company is small and does not have a robust revision system consider a simple system and rename your electronic files with today’s date and use that time stamp as your revision.  Or start today and name them all revision 1.  Revision control of even the smallest of changes makes looking back on changes to your project much easier to control and trace for all parties involved.

Supply chain and forecasting

Today’s electronics supply chains are very volatile.  Things you have been used to getting shipped overnight from your favorite supplier may all be gone and have a 50 week lead time tomorrow.  Be aware of the components on your design that cannot be easily substituted, consider purchasing a buffer quantity of that part to keep in your own stock, consider what could possibly be changed so you have multiple options.  Supplying your supplier with forecasts and placing purchase orders far enough in advance to get parts on order will greatly reduce timeline stresses later on.

Material storage

Ask if your supplier has good storage and material tracking software.  Are they utilizing good practices for minimizing Electro Static Discharge (ESD)?  Do they have good practices in place for tracking and protecting devices with high Moisture Sensitive Levels (MSL)?  Can they separately track and store components you purchased and supplied for you product that you own?  These are all good questions to get yes answers to from your potential supplier.



There may be many more very important issues and details to consider when choosing your next electronic assembly manufacturer.  Starting with the above short list will ensure that you are already off to a good start though.  Are some of the above terms new to you?  Do you have questions?  EPD Electronics is here to help.  Feel free to reach out anytime and let one of our very experienced staff answer any of your questions.

Many Thanks to Chance Turner at EPD Electronics for this article: EPD Electronics - www.epdelectronics.com

Reverse Osmosis in Manufacturing?

Reverse Osmosis in Manufacturing?

Many manufacturers think of drinking water when they hear the phrase reverse osmosis system, but in fact many manufacturing processes reply on high quality water in places you would never think they apply.  We recently spoke with Ron Hoolahan, president of All Water Systems in Pittsburgh, PA who specialize in commercial reverse osmosis distribution systems and water treatment technology.

Ron recently shared a story about a manufacturer in the metals industry who was getting product rejects because of deposits on the finished products caused it to no longer meet the specifications required by their customer. These products were expensive, and the reject rate was significantly hurting the company’s bottom line.

AWS was hired to analyze the situation to find the root cause of the problem and provide recommendations. They quickly determined that the deposits were due to one of the final steps in the manufacturing process, a cooling and cleaning process that relied on water in the final steps.

The feed water to the final process was identified as the specific contaminants causing the deposits. Deionizer Exchange tanks created a temporary pilot system that was able to confirm that removing the dissolved minerals from the water would eliminate the deposits. Once this was confirmed, several water samples were tested on an RO System Analysis software program to confirm that installing an RO system would provide high quality water and remove the deposit issue thus mitigating the problem.

Reverse osmosis is a proven method to filter water and provide high purity water feed where water quality is critical. Reverse Osmosis works by using a high-pressure pump to increase the pressure on the salt side of the RO and force the water across a membrane that allows water molecules to pass and traps particles and pollutants in the membrane. In osmosis, water becomes more concentrated as it passes through the membrane to obtain equilibrium. Reverse osmosis stops the contaminants from entering the less concentrated side of the membrane. When an amount of saltwater is pressurized during reverse osmosis, the salt remains and only clean water flows through the feed.


The outcome:

AWS designed a reverse osmosis unit with a distribution system to replace the deionizer exchange tanks. Controls were integrated into the system allowing the customer to control the operation of the water treatment system. Point-of-use quality monitors were added to allow operators to confirm the treated water met the required specifications. The result was an almost immediate elimination of the deposits allowing the product to meet the customer’s requirement, eliminate rejects, and retune to a profitable manufacturing process.

Author: Neal Rabogliatti, DMS - Many Thanks To Ron Hoolahan, President of All Water Systems: www.allwatersystems.com

Demand for EV Charging Stations Could Be a Marketing Opportunity

EV Charging Stations Demand is a Great Marketing Opportunity!

Everyone is aware of the transition from gas powered cars and trucks to electric vehicles, but does everyone understand the importance of having enough EV charging stations to support them?

The clock is ticking, Ford, General Motors, Mercedes, Toyota, Lexus, Honda have all announced that they will be phasing out production of gas combustion cars anywhere between 2025 and 2035. This dramatic change means less gas stations and more EV charging stations. Currently the U.S. has 104,000 public charging plugs available today, just 18% of which are so-called "Level 3" or "DC fast chargers," which can replenish an EV battery in an hour or less according to AXIOS.

A Marketing Opportunity Arises:

While federal, state, and local municipalities need to plan for this increased need for charging stations, so too are most businesses. Think about it, if there is an increased demand for something wouldn’t you want to be on the supply side of the equation. Businesses of every type are quickly adding one if not more charging stations at their location to help attract electric vehicle owners. Why not charge your car while you shop, eat, attend class, golf? Right now, hotels, shopping centers, amusement parks are quickly planning and installing more charging stations as a way to entice electric car owners to come to their business because they offer a charging station.

Getting Started:

So how should businesses get onboard with EV Charing Stations? First you need to find an EV charging station manufacturer, then determine how many and of which models to purchase, then there is the need for permits, installation, training, maintenance just to get them up and running.

Most manufacturers are in the business of designing and producing the units, not in installing them. Most installation companies don’t have the experience or the direct relationship with the manufacturer, so the costs and complications increase. One option is to work with a manufacturer’s representative agency that provides consulting, purchasing and turn-key solutions. One company, BizReps does just that, they are an EV Charging Station Manufacturer’s Rep for PowerCharge. The manufacturer doesn’t sell directly, and Biz Reps fill that role but also partner with other third parties to handle everything from permits to installation and training. This makes the entire process easier to the customer and in most cases reduces the overall costs because it is all handled through one company.

However, you choose to implement your strategy, it is something to consider, and soon. Do you want to be the business that offers charging stations or let you competitor take that off your hands?


Author: Neal Rabogliatti, Editor Manufacturing.Posthaven


Beginner’s Guide to Production Machining

Beginner’s Guide to Production Machining

CNC machining is a process used in manufacturing to shape raw materials into parts with specific geometries, dimensions, and tolerances by removing material to obtain a shape or part. The difference between standard CNC machining and production machining comes down to volume of parts to be manufactured. Production machining focuses on repeatability and accuracy of tolerances, simply put part 1 must be identical to part number 5000. There is low volume CNC machining and high-volume CNC production machining.

Outsourcing production machining for a company can reduce overall costs and improve the quality and consistency of the parts being made. We recently spoke with Dean Sonquist, the owner of Plas-Tech Tooling to learn more about what companies should know about production machining and how to reduce time and costs as well as improve the quality of the machined parts.


What can affect machining pricing?

Lead times, raw material availability and tolerances all affect pricing.

Machining tolerance is a common factor that affects pricing.  At times buyers or engineers don’t always understand that a three or four place dimension may not be necessary for the part they are working on.   For example, some parts only require a saw cut compared with a significantly tighter tolerance that would require machining or even grinding. This is a big deal when it comes to the final cost of the part.

We review customer prints and ask questions regarding what does and does not matter?  Many times we hear, “well, my software was set up for three decimal place precision, so I didn't change it.”   This may seem like it is not big deal, but it can drastically affect the cost of the process.  So, using reference numbers or stating saw cut or mill surface is fine.   It is important to identify surfaces or features that are critical to your part and validate what needs the high tolerances.   If it doesn't require the tolerance, don't be as specific about it.  Your CAD software is an important tool, but remember you can adjust the final tolerance requirements for the part.


Have a Conversation with your Provider

Take the time at the beginning of your project to speak with your CNC machining provider. Tell them what features are critical, and discuss which tolerances are critical.  When possible, describe or demonstrate the application of the part.  This may lead to an ongoing dialog about the part.   Have a two-way conversation instead of blindly sending an RFQ and a print. The more questions that are asked, the more likely you are to have a part which better fits your needs and budget.


Material Call Outs

Using the correct material call outs will help reduce costs.   We often see prints requiring specific alloys like a 4140 called out, when a simple 1018 or 1045 would work just well.   Calling out the correct material can reduce costs and turnaround time.


Understanding Quantity and Volume

Regardless of volume or quantity, there are things that need to be done before production begins.

If you only need one part, your full setup cost is associated with that one piece.   If you need a hundred or a thousand pieces, the setup cost is spread out over more parts, making the cost per part more economically correct.  Some companies don’t understand the time and cost associated making only one part.

In addition to the setup, fixturing and tooling costs are all fixed costs that will get figured into a job. These costs are a constant regardless of the number of parts produced. The easiest way to reduce cost is by adding volume and trying to order all parts at one time or have purchase agreements for a higher quantity over time. This will spread the fixed costs over more parts and ultimately bring down your per piece price. 

We would also suggest thinking about part designs that can use the same part in different locations, like left and right-side parts.  Something like this may allow you to double the volume of a single part.

Before investing in a tooling fixture, you may want to consider rapid prototyping or machining one part to make sure it is exactly what you want.   Once you have hard tooling or the fixturing in place, you don’t want to find out you need to change the design for something you didn't think about and start all over again.  Proving out your concept and design in the beginning before you move towards the higher production run is one of the main things that needs to be thought about.


Finally, once you are committed to higher volume production, make sure there are quality standards such as gauging and measuring the parts in place. You don't want to use a manufacturer that has no plan for quality oversight.  Using a company with ISO 9001 or similar certification, can give you the piece of mind that your parts will be made right and function to your expectation. 


Many thanks to Dean Sonquist, owner of Plas-Tech Tooling, for sharing his insights on production machining.

Plas-Tech Tooling : www.plastechtooling.com

Turning Sphagnum Moss into a Horticultural Solution

Sphagnum Moss Has Been Used for a Thousand Years

Horticulturists have long known the benefits of long-fibered sphagnum moss. With its unique qualities of retaining 20 times its weight in water, twice as absorptive as cotton, and its anti-bacterial sterility, sphagnum moss has become an indispensable gardening tool in the propagation and beautification process.

Sphagnum moss is the organic answer to many gardening and indoor floral projects. Because of its abilities to both absorb and hold 20 times its weight in water and repel bacteria, long fibered sphagnum moss offers one of the best solution to several basic gardening uses and problems. Sphagnum moss is commonly used for the culture of orchids, line hanging baskets and as packing material to protect plant roots during shipping.

Gardeners use it as a soil cover to help retain moisture in potted plants and used for air-layering plant propagation, and as a seed starting medium. Crafters also use it to create decorative arrangements and projects like living wreaths and topiaries.

Since 1932, The Mosser Lee company has been harvesting and processing sphagnum moss from the marshes in Wisconsin. The ecosystem of these marshes is tightly controlled, and the sphagnum moss assists in retaining and holding the structure of the marshes. To protect these marshes, Mosser Lee gently harvests the sphagnum moss by workers in hip boots, who pull the moss, breaking it at the soil line, and prepare the water-laden sphagnum moss for commercial use. The Mosser Lee Company chooses not to dig out the peat as it would kill the propagation process, and these wonderful plants would be lost forever.

Today, Mosser Lee is the largest harvester and fabricator of sphagnum moss long fiber products in North America. The sphagnum moss plant that we harvest is indispensable in the horticulture industry.

Many thanks to: David L Epstein, CEO Mosser Lee Company, www.mosserlee.com

History of the Modern-day Chocolate Easter Egg

History of the Modern-day Chocolate Easter Egg

There’s no greater delight than opening your Easter basket to find a delicious chocolate egg. There’s speculation over the origin of this treat, but we do know how it became popularized into the ultimate Easter basket-stuffer we know and love today.


The first appearance of the chocolate Easter egg was in Europe in the early 19th Century. However, progress in the chocolate Easter egg market was very slow due to their inability to flow chocolate into the molds.


The modern Chocolate Easter Egg we know today owes its progression to the inventions of a press for separating cocoa butter from the cocoa bean in 1828 by the Dutch inventor Van Houten, and the introduction of pure cocoa by the Cadbury Brothers in 1866.


It wasn’t until 1875 that the first mass-produced egg became popularized by John Cadbury. Their eggs consisted of dark, smooth chocolate filled with Dragée. They decorated these two plain shells with chocolate piping and marzipan flowers.


Spring means renewal and a return to tasty treats. At Chocolate Storybook we create handcrafted, personalized hollow-filled chocolate eggs and rabbits that are the perfect gifts to share with loved ones this Easter.

Watch A Video on Hollow Filled Eggs

Author: Sabrina Shearer : Marketing Director Chocolate Storybook | https://chocolatestory.com/

Casting Standards

Let’s talk inspection!

Inspection and testing are key to any quality manufacturing process. An important factor is to determine the type, quantity, and frequency of those inspections to ensure necessary quality is achieved. Sivyer Steel has a vast knowledge of steel casting inspections and can help you pick and choose those requirements to fit your application.

Minimum Requirements

A chemical analysis is always performed per batch of steel produced. This test ensures the physical elements of the steel, i.e. Carbon, Silicon, Nickel, etc., are to the correct amounts per the customer’s requirements. This analysis can be provided with every casting produced from our facility. 

Material Testing

Another common inspection is to measure the mechanical properties of the casting by testing a sample coupon poured along with the casting. This will show that the correct strength, ductility, and toughness of the steel was met through proper heat treatment. The steel’s hardness is also checked and reported for each casting produced.

Casting Inspection

There are several different inspections, depending on the steel type and customer requirements. The most basic is visual inspection, checking the surface finish and defects from the casting process. Magnetic Particle Inspection detects surface discontinuities, such as cracks. Ultrasonic Testing and X-ray inspection are used to reveal internal flaws in the casting. These are the most common forms of non-destructive testing for steel castings. In most cases, visual and Magnetic Particle inspections are performed on every casting produced at Sivyer.


If you are unsure of your needs, our team at Sivyer will be happy to step you through the different inspections, frequency, and how each method will affect casting quality, price, and delivery.  Each casting application is unique and different, and there is no one inspection plan that will fit every casting we produce.


To a casting buyer, these all sound like cost drivers, but to the design and quality engineers, these are securities when creating casting requirements. Both are correct, and where the challenge lies is in finding the right balance to satisfy everyone.

Lisa Wertzbaugher – Sivyer Steel

Website: https://www.sivyersteel.com/